A midnight fire has destroyed goods and over 500 shops worth several millions of naira at the popular Ogbe-Ijoh Market in the Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
The fire, which sources claimed began at about 11.30pm on Tuesday, lasted till about 1.30am on Wednesday, leaving some shops destroyed, while others were looted by youths in the area.
It was gathered that the fire started from an electrical fault in one of the makeshift shops in the market.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that the fire was later put out by the men of the Delta State Fire Service who came to the rescue with the assistance of military men, who mounted a checkpoint around the market.
When our correspondent visited the scene on Wednesday, many of the affected traders lamented the situation, saying that all their means of livelihood had been destroyed.
The leader of Ogbe-Ijoh Market Traders Women Union, Mrs. Queen Ajemitolu, said, “The fire could have started when power was restored.”
She appealed to the state government to come to the aid of the affected traders, particularly women, and provide boreholes, as well as other basic amenities in the market.
The Commissioner representing the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality on the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Chief Favour Izoukumor, who visited the market, lamented the incident and assured the traders that he would liaise with the government for help.
Izoukumor said, “My concern is that there should be unity to maintain peace in this market because we have had clashes in the past; may be when there is unity this type of fire will be avoided.
“The country is facing recession, but we are about to overcome the challenge. I believe the governor will intervene.”
The President of the Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Eric Omare, who also visited the scene, called on the state government to build befitting structures in the market to avoid periodical fire incidents.
The IYC leader called on the state governor to include the construction of the Ogbe-Ijoh Market in the Delta State 2018 appropriation budget before the Delta State House of Assembly to save the market traders the ordeal of persistent fire incidents.”